It Was A Good Laugh … Had To Be

30 Jan

It’s the one day a year I drink a cup of coffee and try to remember what his laugh sounds like.

I’m a tea drinker, and probably the only person on Earth that doesn’t stop by at Starbucks in the morning for a cup of coffee, but thought it might help jog the memory.

I don’t have it.

There’s evidence of it in plenty of Kodak moments and Polaroids, and I can picture it in my head. But I can’t hear it. I think it’s one of things I miss most about him. I miss hearing him crack up at one of my jokes, or at my awesome dance moves.

I can’t remember what his laugh sounds like. That’s sort of an important thing to someone like me.

I’m lucky though I still know what his voice sounds like. I turn to my 2004 Panasonic cordless phone answering machine from Costco. It has 11 messages, 9 are from him. Eight of them are calling to say hi, the ninth one is him calling from the hospital asking me when I’d be showing up. I hear the messages over and over again just trying to get his voice to stay in the room and maybe it will jog my memory to the sound of his voice when he laughed and how it changed.

No such luck today.

But I still remember what he smelled like. I have his last two bottles of Jovan Musk aftershave. I open them up in the morning and after I put the kids to sleep. Just sat there in the closet surrounded by all his white shirts, pants, and polos, smelling the aftershave.

But no laughter.

I still remember what was close to his heart. I have the black Samsonite work briefcase he carried with him at all times — the one I thought carried contracts, shipping orders and important payroll and tax papers for the poultry shop. We realized after his passing that it wasn’t filled with those things, but with the birthday cards and Father’s Day Cards we had given him throughout the years. But he had no pictures of himself in there.


My dad at work, some famous Hawaiian BBQ place out here. Always in his Hawaiian shirts.

My dad in his prime at one of his first jobs, some famous Hawaiian BBQ place out here. Always in his Hawaiian shirts.


So I took to the 1970s and 80s photo albums in the closet and checked out my dad in his prime. I searched my computer for some of my favorite pics. The ones with Hawaiian shirts. The ones of my childhood. The ones where I can feel him cracking up. And it makes me remember of an instance where he cracked up so hard he cried. Unfortunately I had no camera then. There were a few instances like that, but this one in particular happened in Guatemala and it involved a water slide.

Water slides do that sort of thing to you. They bring out the smile, the laughter and the fun. They bring out your inner pirate. They juice up your existence.

Doesn’t matter what age, that water raft spinning and swirling, swooshing and splashing you has that you-crack-me-up effect. Maybe it’s the fast-paced slide or the not knowing when a wave is going to splash you, or perhaps it was the height of the slope we swooshed down on, maybe it was a combination of all those things and the fact that my cousin was freaking out that made us laugh.

Whatever it was that was one of the times my dad laughed so hard he cried. That Guatemalan Raging Waters experience was memorable and I was glad to have been part of that. I was glad to have been part of one of his stories that begins with ‘you remember the time we …’

It was a good laugh. It had to be because I’ve spent all day trying to hear it.

It was important to try to hear it today because he would have been 66 years old today.

But even though I may not have seen it on videos, because he was always the cinematographer of the family back when VHS existed, always behind the scenes, I was still able to find glimpses of his laughter through old family pictures.


On a Bucket List Adventure.

On a Bucket List Adventure … in Guatemala


So I go to bed feeling a little better.

Happy birthday, Dad. I miss you. Hope you liked your cake this year. I made it from scratch. German Chocolate. I had a big piece.



Hanging out with my dad back in the day.


15 Responses to “It Was A Good Laugh … Had To Be”

  1. TBM January 31, 2014 at 4:14 AM #

    A wonderful tribute to a special man. I loved that you discovered his briefcase secret–what a sweet man.

    • The Guat February 4, 2014 at 9:31 AM #

      Thanks so much. It really got to me when I saw all those cards. A tough day for me hanging out at the cementary but remembering that waterslide adventure cracked me up.

  2. The Jogging Dad January 31, 2014 at 4:21 AM #

    That’s so very touching. And I’m sure he had a great smile on his face, seeing you enjoy a big slice of his birthday cake.

    • The Guat February 4, 2014 at 9:35 AM #

      Thanks so much. I always hope he’s looking down on me from wherever he is and smiles when I think of him and our adventures. And that cake was definitely awesome, I think it’s the best one I’ve made. First time I’ve made it from scratch, most of the time it’s Betty Crocker πŸ™‚

  3. bgddyjim January 31, 2014 at 6:21 AM #

    Just awesome dude.

    • The Guat February 4, 2014 at 9:36 AM #

      Thanks πŸ™‚ Remembering Dad is always a happy time because of all of our adventures, and then sometimes sad because he’s not around. πŸ™‚

  4. brickhousechick January 31, 2014 at 8:54 AM #

    Wow! How incredibly heartwarming. Que Dios te bendiga, siempre. πŸ™‚

    • The Guat February 4, 2014 at 9:37 AM #

      Gracias, chica πŸ™‚ It’s always a tough that day and Father’s Day, but sometimes the water slide memories and pics help out a little.

  5. marydpierce January 31, 2014 at 10:31 AM #

    I love these posts about your dad. I feel like I know him, and that he was something special, a one-in-a-million kind of dad. You are lucky to have had a dad that awesome, and your kids are lucky because they have a mother who is capable of such fierce love and loyalty. Man. I wish he were still here to celebrate and eat that cake you baked.

    Big ((HUGS)).

    • The Guat February 4, 2014 at 9:39 AM #

      Thanks for the hugs. They are always needed during this time πŸ™‚ And I’m so glad that my Dad stories reveal his spirit so that you could understand how awesome he was to me. Thanks so much for the compliment about my fierce love. That totally made my day πŸ™‚ Next time you’re in Southern California I’ll save you a piece of cake.

  6. Cayman Thorn February 1, 2014 at 3:34 PM #

    I swear to God, when you write about your father it’s like being across the table from you and listening to tales. I’m telling you, fill a book with these moments and the pictures of you and papa.
    And as far as that laugh of his is concerned, it’s not so hard to find. Just listen to yours the next time you go full throttle, because that’s where it’s at.

    • The Guat February 4, 2014 at 9:42 AM #

      Dude. Dude, thanks so much for the awesome compliment totally makes me feel better. Makes me feel good to know that other people get to know who he is because of me. I might just take your advice and start book number two and make it all about my Dad, but first I’ve got to finish book number one πŸ™‚

  7. anotherday2paradise February 8, 2014 at 5:31 PM #

    Your love for your dad really comes through loud and clear, TG. It’s good to wallow in the good memories, especially at such times as this. It sounds like he was a great dad, and a fun person too. πŸ™‚ xx

    • The Guat February 9, 2014 at 8:32 AM #

      Thanks so much. He was a good guy and I’m so glad I can remember some of the stories so that others could see who he was through me. Some fun stories for sure πŸ™‚

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